The Life of Lucy Foster

My final project for my Historical Archaeology course is a personal narrative formed by historical records and an assemblage recovered from a site in Andover, MA. The site is called the Lucy Foster Homesite, also known as “Black Lucy’s Garden”, which was excavated in 1942 by Ripley and Adelaide Bullen (Martin, 107). The areas that were excavated were the cellar hole, dump, well, vegetable cellar, and lumbermen’s shack on Lucy Fosters acre (Martin, 107). Although these areas all contributed to Lucy’s daily life in someway the only portion of Lucy’s home that still existed was the cellar hole (Martin, 107). The assemblage recovered from this site include material culture that is linked to socializing, labor, and food resources. In the past there has been a lot of focus on the ceramics from this assemblage because it is quite large. They recovered 113 reconstructed ceramics from the Lucy Foster Homesite (Martin, 107). Most of which were serving dishes.

It may seem obvious that Lucy Foster was entertaining members of her community based on the significant amount of serving dishes in this assemblage. But the original response to this assemblage was, how did she acquire such a large collection living in poverty? Assuming she lived in poverty because she was black and received financial assistance from the parish. But I think we are missing a major part of her life by only focusing on how she came to have this collection. I believe it is more important to know what she was doing with her ceramics and why a large collection would be important to her. This brings me to my goal for this project. I want to highlight the racial bias that is layered into the interpretation of Lucy Foster and her life. In return I would also like to offer an interpretation that recognizes her ability to cope with adversity and survive. In order to do this I will need to write two personal narratives from both perspectives. It is my hope that seeing these perspectives side by side may encourage others to identify the layers of bias that are woven into historical records and research. By recognizing these biases we can develop more accurate interpretations of the past and create an opportunity for communities to heal from the pain created by these distorted perspectives.

Works Cited

Martin, Anthony. “Homeplace Is Also Workplace: Another Look at Lucy Foster in Andover, Massachusetts.” Historical Archaeology, vol. 52, no. 1, 2018, pp. 100–112.

The Story of My Family

This week we were instructed to make a digital story based on our family history. I chose to tell the story of how my family was formed. Specifically the way in which we met each other and how we grew to love each other. This story is important to me because my family is the most important part of my life. They are the people that have made me who I am and keep me grounded. This is the story of our beautifully diverse and wonderfully complicated family.

Interpreting Historic Glasswares

This week I was faced with the challenge of interpreting historic glasswares for my Historical Archaeology course. At first I thought this project would be quick, simple and easy. But I quickly discovered this task was in fact challenging and required close observation. Who knew there were so many different manufacture methods and container shapes? The finish, which includes the bore and lip of a bottle, quickly became my greatest challenge. Thankfully the Society for Historical Archaeology has a bottle identification website that is very helpful when you are stumped.

For example, I was examining a bottle that was aqua in color and cylindrical in shape. The base was shallow and concave with a pontil mark. A pontil mark is a type of scar that is left when the iron rod is removed from the bottle. The seam along the base indicates a 2-piece cup bottom manufacture method. Which involves a mold with a separate base plate. Based on my observations I concluded the bottle was used for soda or mineral water. But the finish threw me for a loop because it was a crown shape. Which is typically seen on beer or ale bottles. Thanks to the Society for Historical Archaeology website I was able to confirm the bottle was used for soda. Next I researched the makers mark to confirm the period of use. The bottle was marked with “Fox Trademark J.G. Fox & Co. Seattle, WA”. J.G. Fox & Co. was a beer and soda bottler in Seattle, WA from 1850-1910. I was unable to find any information about marketing and their demographic. But it is clear they were popular for the area where this assemblage was collected. There were several similar bottles in this collection with the same color, shape, and makers mark. Perhaps the site where they were collected was a dump for retailers. Or maybe it was the drink of choice for the nearby population. This will require further research that goes beyond my glassware knowledge and interpretations.

Gravestones and Kinship Terminology

Last week our Historical Archaeology class took a field trip to Calvary Cemetery. Calvary Cemetry is a Roman Catholic cemetery established in 1889 (Associated Catholic Cemeteries of Seattle). We surveyed the grounds and collected gravestone information. Our class identified gravestone shapes, materials, inscriptions, and other information that would help us understand the way in which people were memorialized during different time periods. I specifically focused on kinship terminology. 54 out of 229 gravestones had kinship terminology. They were most frequently used in the 1920s and 1940s. There was a significant decline after the 1940s but in 1995 kinship terminology began to increase again. Block shaped gravestones appear to be the most popular shape for kinship terminology. 43% of the kinship terminology gravestones were block shaped.

The most common inscription was “beloved wife” or “beloved husband”. This phrase was inscribed on 14 out of 54 kinship terminology gravestones. The dates for these gravestones ranged from 1925-2017. In the late 1800s to the early 1900s a common inscription for women was “wife of” or “his wife. I think this is an interesting representation of how women were thought of and treated during this period. Based on this information it could be assumed that women were seen as objects. Or that their identities were directly linked to their husbands. Around the 1920s female gravestones became more focused on the individual. Their identity is not described through their husband. But with that being said inscriptions for women mostly described their roles as mothers or wives. Although this information may seem insignificant. It can actually give us a glimpse into culture and the changes within that culture.

Talking Trash

No, I’m not talking about boastful archaeologists trying to to intimidate their competition. Instead I want to talk about garbology. Garbology is the study of rubbish or what we commonly call trash. It first began with the Garbage Project in Tucson, Arizona in the 1970s. William Rathje, an American archaeologist, started this project because he felt trash could offer more insight into peoples lives than the people themselves. After reading a few chapters from Rathje and Murphy’s book, “Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage”, I was hooked. The evidence and findings from their research were surprising and left me creating my own hypothesis for each study. A perfect example from their book is a study about waste behavior during a red meat shortage in the United States. They had hypothesized there would be less red meat waste during the shortage. But what they discovered was an increase in beef waste due to “crisis buying”. People had stocked up on beef but did not have the knowledge or tools to cook and store their meat. Leading to an increase in red meat waste. Something they had not anticipated going into this study but lead to an additional study to support their theory.

Last week I had the opportunity to conduct my own rubbish analysis for my Historical Archaeology course. I reported my waste for a week and in return I had to analyze a classmates waste. In comparison my waste was very different from my classmate. For example, I had a significant amount of waste because I live in a two person household that cooks one to two meals a day. But 32% of my classmates waste was take out food and beverage containers. This evidence suggests my classmate lives in a one person household that does not cook at home. This can also be supported by their other waste. Which included snack packages and beverage containers. These findings would also suggest a household with disposable income. My classmate spent $65 on take out food and beverages in a week. And that only includes food or beverages that were brought home. When I reached this conclusion I began to ask myself why do they have this food behavior. I looked through their report again for clues. I found my answer when I saw three cardboard Amazon boxes in their refuse collection. Their waste reflects a life that requires convenience. Maybe because they grew up in a culture that is focused on convenience or maybe because they are a full-time student working a part-time job. In order to draw more precise conclusions I would need more material evidence. I know that is not possible in this situation but that won’t stop me from developing my interest in garbology and talking trash with my fellow archaeology students.

About Paloma

My faithful companion Duke.

Hello! My name is Paloma Sanchez and I am a senior at the University of Washington majoring in Archaeological Sciences. I am a proud member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. I have a deep interest in Indigenous archaeology as well as Zooarchaeology. Growing up in a community that shared oral histories and traditions helped develop my interest in archaeology. I am currently working in the Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology lab at the University of Washington. Developing a digital catalogue of unidentified seeds from a late nineteenth and early twentieth century settlement site on the Grande Ronde Reservation. When I am not at school you can typically find me studying for the GRE, learning the language of my people, and drinking beer at various breweries in Seattle.